Can Acne Medications Cause Birth Defects?

Newborn Infant and MotherServing St. Louis Parents of Children with Bith Defects

Breakouts during pregnancy are extremely common. Women will experience breakouts, acne problems, and even skin changes due to the elevated hormones. While it is safe to use acne medications while you are not pregnant, pregnancy and acne medications – including some that are sold over-the-counter – do not necessarily mix well. There are certain medications that pregnant women should avoid to prevent harmful effects to their unborn child.

What Acne Medications Should Pregnant Women Avoid?

According to WebMD, pregnant women should avoid four primary acne medications:

  1. Accutane – This is known as isotretinoin, and has been found to cause birth defects, as well as increase a pregnant woman’s risk for miscarriage or infant death. The studies are so conclusive that physicians will often order pregnancy tests periodically throughout treatment to ensure that patients do not become pregnant.
  2. Hormonal Acne Therapies – These can include flutamide and spironolactone, which can lead to birth defects.
  3. Topical Retinoids – While topical, they can still pass into the bloodstream and, therefore, reach the fetus. These include medications with adapalene, tazarotene, and tretinoin.
  4. Oral Tetracycline – These are used to treat acne from within, but can lead to bone growth issues and affect the tooth color of the fetus. Oral tetracyclines include medications like doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline.

Accutane Lawsuits

There are multiple lawsuits for Accutane. It was originally introduced in 1982, but it wasn’t until ten years later that professionals became aware of the potential side-effects – especially for pregnant women. Isotretinoin is a known teratogen, which means that it can interfere with the fetal development process. Prescribers are urged to test their patients throughout treatment, and stop it immediately if the patient becomes pregnant. Unfortunately, less than half of physicians actually tested their patients – until stronger restrictions were placed on the medication in 2005 by the FDA. It was noted that taking Accutane and other like medications before conception or during pregnancy was linked to ear malformations, facial malformations, cleft palate, and neural tube defects.

Some common diseases linked to Accutane use during pregnancy included:

  • Crohn’s Disease – This is a form of irritable bowel syndrome that can show up at any time. It affects the lower layers of the intestinal lining, and can create lesions in the healthy tissue.
  • Miscarriage or Severe Defects – There were numerous women who took Accutane during pregnancy and gave birth to babies with severe defects. According to the FDA, women of childbearing age who are taking Accutane should not get pregnant. Also, the risk for premature birth, death of the baby, and miscarriage are extremely high.
  • Depression and Suicide – The FDA issued a secondary warning in 1998, urging those who used Accutane to be aware of the depression and suicidal tendencies associated with the medication. This is not reserved for just pregnant women, either – men and women on Accutane are at high risk for depression and/or suicidal thoughts.

Was Your Baby Born with Preventable Birth Defects?

Sadly, manufacturers often are aware of potential birth defects, and fail to warn the public. Sometimes, physicians fail to perform within their required standard of care to ensure that their patients give birth to healthy babies. If your baby was born with a preventable birth defect, then you may be entitled to compensation. You will need to contact a medical malpractice attorney first to explore your options. The team at Carey, Danis & Lowe Attorneys at Law can help. Schedule a free consultation now at 877-678-3400 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.